14 April 2018

Kia Stinger 2018 Car Review

Cover the badge, and you might think this Kia Stinger was from a European stable. Read the spec, and you’ll be more convinced. For this car’s sleek good looks and powerful rear-drive format are about as far from the traditional ‘Korean car’ stereotypes as it’s possible to get.

Kia Stinger jm2 18
Kia Stinger
Kia Stinger jm 18
Kia Stinger
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Kia Stinger
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Kia Stinger
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Kia Stinger
Kia Stinger jm11 18
Kia Stinger

Kia is of course closely allied to Hyundai, and shares technology with the bigger company – Stinger sits on the Hyundai Genesis platform. But the smaller marque seems to have the edge on dymanic design that looks good, without being OTT. Certainly the Stinger turned heads and prompted admiring comments wherever it went, those streamlined lean lines, the subtle details, those four tailpipes and the glowing ruby paint no doubt the cause.

But it’s what’s under the bonnet of this GT Sport that really makes a keen driver stand to attention, for the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 – also filched from Genesis – delivers a heckuva hit at almost any real-world speed, thanks to a mighty 510Nm of torque delivered via an eight-speed auto box at anywhere from 1300rpm to 4500rpm.

That does mean you must pull your punches while overtaking, as a sedate and safe pass can easily turn to ‘hello officer’ after a relatively careful prod of the throttle with little to warn you but the head-up display, for the car feels as stable and quiet as it did when you were just tooling along.

Want to put it to the full test? The V6 GT has a limited slip diff and launch control, turning off stability control to fling the car off the line: this is the first Kia to dispatch a zero to 100km/h time of under five seconds.

And it’s not just the power that impresses, but the handling. A former VP of engineering at BMW M Automobiles was in charge, and you can tell. The fully independent suspension also gets Dynamic Stability Damping Control, which the driver can customize, or leave to automatically tune the shocks’ stroke length. Kia says the standard set-up was tuned for down under, and we can believe it, for it absorbed some lurid bumps on our 500km drive, guaranteeing ride comfort without apparently compromising handling round corners. And it’s while pouring the power on through those corners that you’ll feel that unmistakable character of a rear drive, with the electronic nannies set up to allow a whisker of rear movement without the car ever feeling unbalanced.

The cabin is equally impressive, with a smart design and materials, and a fit and finish that looks as good as it feels to the touch, though not quite on a par with up-market Euros. And the boot is reasonably generous with that lift-back format making loading easy.

A fave of our smaller tester was the side bolster set-up on the driver seat, which can tighten inwards to hold even a slimmer driver firmly in place: the eight-way adjustable seat also delivers four-way lumbar support and electric cushion extension. Now also factor in that those seats are slathered in Nappa leather, that there’s a sunroof, and a Harman/Kardon sound system with 15 speakers, including under-seat subwoofers. There’s satnav, Android Auto and AppleCarPlay, Bluetooth handsfree and smart cruise control: there’s safety stuff like blind-spot detection, lane-keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, heated mirrors, surround cameras to ease manoeuvering, and those 19-inch alloy wheels.

Hell, it even includes a wireless phone charger, for those smartphones that are compatible.

And finally, buyers get free scheduled servicing for the first four years or 40,000km, plus the usual five-year, 100,000km warranty and roadside assist.

The Stinger may be quick, but it doesn't forget that most folk want to be comfortable, most of the time. It’s more sporting grand tourer than race-track hack, and all the better for that given real-world use.

Quibbles? Not many. Smaller children may find it hard to see out the rear, and family buyers should check this if they want to avoid car-sick kids.

Kia says it’ll attract Optima buyers wanting to trade up. It’s being too modest. At this $69,990 price – less for the 2.0-litre EX Turbo and GT Line – it’ll draw the eye of traditional Euro buyers seeking a quality Gran Turismo without breaking the bank, and Falcon and Commodore buyers mourning the loss of their favourite rear-drive performance sedans.

At a glance


3.3 GT Sport (2.2 EX Turbo and GT Line also available)


3.3-litre twin-turbo V6


$69,990 plus on-road costs

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

272kW at 6000rpm, 510Nm at 1300-4500rpm


Eight-speed auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

Braked 1500kg


 2WD to rear wheels

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

406 litres rear seat up, 1114 litres down

Safety systems

Seven airbags

Emergency braking

Heads up display

Around view cameras with dynamic guidelines, park sensors front and rear

Blind Spot Detection

Land Keep Assist

Rear cross traffic allert

Forward collision warning

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